HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - In 2012 alone, Crisis Services of North Alabama treated 150 victims of sexual assault or abuse. However, nationwide an estimated 63%of sexual abuse cases go unreported.
Meaning a majority of victims are not getting the help and counseling they need, while perpetrators don't have to face the consequences of their brutal actions.
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for Crisis Services of North Alabama, Monique Brouillette, says so many victims stay silent because of fear of retaliation, of not being believed, or a fear of even being blamed.
"No one goes out intending to be a victim by choosing an outfit, or choosing a party to go to, or choosing to have alcohol or drugs. Those things do that say that person wanted this to happen," said Brouillette. "I think what we could spend more time focusing on is that basically the behaviors of the perpetrator were accepted and normalized."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and aims to shed light on the silent victims, and the help that is out there for them.
Brouillette calls on families and friends to speak out when a loved one's life is changed by assault or abuse.
"The reality is they are in shock and they're numb, it`s hard to understand the reality of what`s happened."
Victims are encouraged to rise above fear or shame and seek help.
"What we want to do is help them feel validated, help them understand that how they`re feeling is normal, and from there help them feel like they can gain some sense of control over their life and feel secure in their own safety," advised Brouilette.
To do that requires understanding that every victim, every case, and every reaction is different. But help is always there.
"I always encourage people to be present, and let their loved one know they are there, but not necessarily press for information. More so encourage their loved one to know they are there if or when they want to talk."
Crisis Services of North Alabama has someone on hand 24/7 to respond to cases of sexual abuse or assault. If a victim is uncomfortable speaking with loved ones, there are always counselors on hand.
You can contact Crisis Services 24/7 at 256-716-1000.